A supervisor at a Texas-based oilfield management company not only insisted that a job applicant be rejected because of his wife’s cancer, but also committed his illegal bias to writing in a series of intra-company e-mails.

Result: A federal appeals court ordered the company to face a jury trial for disability discrimination.

Good recommendations
According to the EEOC, the applicant had worked for the company in the past. When he sought to be rehired, both a hiring manager and his old boss recommended that he be brought back to work at a company facility in Winnie, TX.

But the facility director, who was the hiring manager’s supervisor, opined orally and in e-mails to company officers that the applicant’s wife’s condition would hamper his performance. The director also cited the applicant’s age, 56.

Hired the youngster
Eventually, the company hired a 35-year-old who, unlike the older applicant, had no experience with the company or the computer software relevant to the job.

Takeaway: An employee or applicant doesn’t have to be disabled to sue you for disability discrimination. If you discriminate against such a person because of the disability of someone they associate with – which can be a family member or even a friend – you’ve broken the law.

Cite: EEOC v. DynMcDermott Petroleum Ops. Co.

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